Oct 30, 2015

In search of missing Galactic symbiotic stars


This program is exploring the Milky Way to discover and better understand the progenitors of supernova explosions in special binary star systems.

Oct 29, 2015

The radial velocity survey of circumbinary planets around eclipsing binary stars


The program aims at searching for circumbinary exoplanets, so such planets beyond our Solar System which orbit two stars instead of one.

Discovery of the recoiled companion to the magnetar B0526-66 in the N49 supernova remnant


Massive stars die in an explosive manner as a supernova, often leaving behind a neutron star which may become visible at radio frequencies as a pulsar. Supernova remnant N49 in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy is an extreme example of a supernova remnant slamming into an unfortunate cloud next to it, and of its pulsar being wildly offset from the centre of the explosion. The latter suggests that the exploded star had a companion, but where is it? We think we have found it, and we are now planning to use the SALT to confirm this. Stay tuned for the press release if it’s true!

Oct 28, 2015

SALT Supernova Followup


We are observing exploding stars (supernovae) in the nearby and distant Universe: 1. to trace the expansion history of the accelerating Universe, and 2. understand the nature of these cosmic explosions.

Oct 27, 2015

Observational Constraints on the Nature of the Extreme Luminous Blue Variable S18 and S134


S18 and S134 are massive, hot, highly variable star in the Magellanic Clouds. Despite its size, S18 shows large variations in brightness over timescales of days/weeks quite unlike any other star of its type. We are trying to look at how the spectrum of the star changes with overall brightness to try to understand the nature of this intriguing source. S134 appears to bevery similar to S18 and so we’re investigating this source as well.

A radial velocity survey for close binary Wolf-Rayet central stars of planetary nebulae


A radial velocity survey for unusual central stars of planetary nebulae.

A deep spectrophotometric survey of the Magellanic symbiotic stars


Modern spectroscopy of Magellanic symbiotic stars.

Oct 25, 2015

Magellanic Be X-ray binaries – high-resolution Halpha spectroscopy during outburst


In this proposal we aim to look for short term variability in the Halpha spectral line of any active Be/X-ray binaries that is a compact object such as a black hole or neutron star) present in the SMC. This will show us how the disc surrounding the normal star is changing as it interacts with the compact object.

A deep spectrophotometric survey of the Magellanic symbiotic stars


Modern spectroscopy of Magellanic symbiotic stars.

Oct 24, 2015

Exploring the limits of HRS for measuring Exoplanet Radial Velocities


We are using the so-called “wobble technique” to measure the effect of planets orbiting around other stars. This is a new research area for South Africa using a brand new instrument (HRS) on SALT, which may be one of the best in the world for this work!This proposal aims to test how well HRS is suited to these studies by observing two stars with well-measured exoplanet orbits.